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Ai Weiwei loses second appeal in tax evasion case

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has lost a second appeal after being given a hefty fine for tax evasion. He believes he is being punished for his criticism of China's leadership.

Chinese Activist artist Ai Weiwei, right, speaks to the journalists after attending his appeal case at the Beijing No. 2 People's Intermediate Court in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Chinese authorities on Thursday rejected Ai’s second appeal of a $2.4 million tax fine, meaning his design company will have to pay the penalty. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Ai Weiwei Peking China Einspruch Gericht Steuer Strafe

Ai emerged from the Beijing courtroom Thursday angrily stating that there had been no change from the original verdict, which amounted to a $2.4 million (1.86 million euro) fine.

"The court completely refused to respect the facts, they did not give us a chance to present our case and ignored the rights of the tax payer," Ai told reporters. "No matter on questions of legal procedure or facts, they just refused to listen."

The fine was levied by a local tax authority against Ai's company, Fake Studio, for tax evasion. He has already paid some of the fine, but risks being placed in jail if he doesn't pay the rest.

The verdict is widely seen by dissidents in China as a politically motivated attack against the outspoken government critic Ai.

Last year Ai was detained for 81 days and reportedly beaten. He was treated in Germany for injuries he sustained while in detention. He was charged with tax evasion after his release.

Ai, whose best-known pieces include the Bird's Nest stadium from the Beijing Olympics said he was not allowed to speak during Thursday's court proceedings.

"There was never any hearing or deliberation," he said. "It was like the verdict was well prepared in advance."

mz/ccp (Reuters, dpa, AP)